Although Immortal Unchained has a good premise, some issues with pacing and dialogue prevent it from being quite as good overall as it could be.
The vampire craze as we know it may be basically over, especially with The Vampire Diaries finally closing up shop just this month and Twilight more of a punchline, but that doesn’t mean that the bloodsuckers don’t still have a hold in fiction. Of course, Lynsay Sands’ vampires are slightly different. They prefer the term immortals, thank you very much, as the title of the latest book, Immortal Unchained, suggests.
In the novel, Sarita Reyes has arrived in Venezuela ostensibly to visit her grandmother, who’s employed by a Dr. Sessler. Meanwhile, Domitian Argenis (not Argeneau, though he’s related to them all the same) is investigating the same doctor, who’s been involved in the disappearance of other immortals. Oh, and, as is expected, Sarita is Domitian’s life mate, but we’ll go into that more later.
This book had a lot of potential for me, but I did find that some of the execution, particularly in the realms of plot sequence, just didn’t work out quite the way I expected. This book gets 2.5/5 stars.
The modern setting affords the novel the chance to work in some actual action in the back half of the book. It also certainly helps that Sarita is a cop and Domitian is, for all intents and purposes, a vampire. In fact, the second half of the book generally works out better than the first. That’s helped along by developing the relationship between Domitian and Sarita further as well as unraveling more of Dr. Sessler’s plans. Ultimately, the pieces of information dropped in the first part of the book do mostly pay off by the end.
Additionally, Sarita is a pretty good heroine. For the most part, she tries to keep up with Domitian and insists on trying to make choices as much as she can despite the whole life mate business pulling her towards him. A reader can see she does care for her family and her job as a cop, although she’s not down in Venezuela under any official capacity. We get a few more details, at least.
You’ll notice I mentioned that the second half is basically better than the first. That’s true, and here’s why. Generally, romance fans can expect three to four love scenes per 350-400 page book. It’s not necessarily a rule, but it’s something of a convention, at least in my experience. This book does not spread them out. Taken with the fact that life mates apparently pass out every time, and you have a recipe for a first half that may turn readers off. I certainly wasn’t sure how I felt about it.
Additionally, the relationship between Sarita and Domitian can come off as slightly creepy, especially from his perspective. The back cover mentions that he knows she’s his life mate. (Some minor spoilers follow here.) The book quickly reveals that he’s waited for her to grow up and has had a private detective giving him some reports on her life for the past 15 years. It’s addressed at points throughout the book, but it doesn’t really feel quite resolved or anything.
Something about the inexorable pull they feel towards each other also can read as robbing them of much in the way of agency. It’s a romance novel, so a reader expects them to get together by the end of the story.
Immortal Unchained probably doesn’t make for the best introduction to the Argeneau series. It certainly does stand on its own — all the basics of how these immortals work get an explanation, courtesy of Sarita not having a clue until she gets more information — but a reader could still have the sense that they’re missing something.